For couples facing any number of fertility problems, IVF offers an effective solution. IVF assists in fertilizing an egg outside of the body so that a multitude of fertility complications and problems can be bypassed all together. This fertilized egg (or eggs) is then transferred into the female’s uterus in hopes of conception. IVF has grown in popularity as techniques have improved and success of treatment has increased. While a growing number of patients are becoming familiar with IVF treatment, many still have questions about what the treatment experience is like and how daily life will be impacted. For instance, many of our Chicago patients have questions regarding IVF and exercise. Here, Dr. Laurence A. Jacobs’ patients can learn whether it is safe to continue exercise throughout IVF treatment.
IS EXERCISE SAFE DURING IVF?
Exercise is a healthy habit that improves the overall health of the body and also has been shown to have a positive impact on a person’s emotional well-being. Because of the significant benefits of exercise, we always encourage our patients to participate in some form of exercise or physical activity. In general, exercise is considered safe throughout the stages of IVF treatment. However, patients may need to alter their regular exercise routine slightly as treatment progresses in order to avoid an increased risk of complications or discomfort. For patients who do not already have an exercise routine, it is probably not a good idea to start a new, strenuous routine at the start of IVF treatment, although low impact activities should be perfectly safe and may even benefit the patient throughout treatment.
One thing to note is that more than four hours per week of "vigorous" exercise during an IVF stimulation has been shown to lower pregnancy rates. This is due to diminished ovarian blood flow as more blood flow is diverted to muscles.
WHAT TYPE OF EXERCISE IS SAFE DURING AN IVF CYCLE?
During the initial phases of IVF treatment, patients should be free to continue with whatever exercise routine has already been established. However, once treatment progresses, Dr. Jacobs will likely advise patients to alter their exercise routine to include only low impact activities. The reason that we ask patients to avoid high impact activities is that the fertility medications that are used may enlarge the ovaries. With strenuous activities, the ovaries may become twisted and a condition known as ovarian torsion may develop. This rare side effect of IVF can be a painful condition for patients. In order to reap the benefits of physical activity while avoiding potential complications of IVF treatment, patients should consider the following exercises, which should be completely safe throughout all phases of IVF treatment:
- Use of elliptical machines
- The use of light hand weights
- Swimming or light water activities
Overall, the best advice regarding IVF treatment and exercise is to do everything in moderation. While some amount of exercise and physical activity is good for the body, it is important not to overdo it. Patients should never push the body to the point that it is in pain or overly fatigued.
If you have had difficulty conceiving or have been diagnosed with an infertility condition and would like to learn more about your fertility treatment options, contact us at your earliest convenience. Dr. Laurence A. Jacobs is happy to answer any questions you may have regarding IVF or fertility treatments in general. We look forward to hearing from you!